Just two ingredients make up a basic hot sauce—peppers and vinegar. From this point, you can let your imagination take over and create a variety of sauces. Try adding pineapple, mango, papaya and lime juice for a sweet and spicy Caribbean sauce. Toss in some tomatoes and onions for a south-of-the-border twist. Add onion, garlic and ginger for a sizzling sambal. Or keep it simple for a sauce to rival any in the grocery store.
For the best results, always use fresh peppers—whichever variety is available in your market or garden. Avoid using canned chile peppers because salt is used in the canning process. Chile peppers can be serious eye, skin and respiratory irritants, so work in a well-ventilated area and always wear plastic gloves.
- 3 cups distilled white vinegar
- 2 pounds peppers (ancho, habanero, jalapeño, passilla or serrano), seeded and coarsely chopped
- 2 teaspoons salt (optional)
- Combine the ingredients in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.
- Process in a blender or food processor until smooth. Pour into glass canning jars and cap tightly.
- Store in the refrigerator and use for up to two months, or freeze for later use. Note: The intensity of this sauce increases as it ages.
Kim Erickson writes on natural health and environmental issues and is the author of Drop Dead Gorgeous: Protecting Yourself from the Hidden Dangers of Cosmetics (Contemporary Books 2002).
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Hot Chile Pepper Health